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Reid Misses the Mark in Criticism of Pace

During a meeting with bloggers, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is reported to have said the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace is incompetent:

Well, I guess the President, he's gotten rid of Pace because he could not get confirmed here in the Senate. Pace is also a yes-man for the President. I told him to his face, I laid it out last time he came in to see me. I told him what an incompetent man I thought he was.

General Peter Pace has had a long and distinguished military career that began as a rifle platoon leader in 1968 in Vietnam. He worked his way up the ranks and was sworn in as Chairman of the JCS in September of 2005. By that time, things had long since gone to hell in a handbasket in Iraq largely as a result of the policies of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

The charge that Pace is a "yes-man" has been floating around for some time and was also applied to Pace's predecessor as JCS Chairman Air Force General Richard Myers. Both men are mild-mannered and worked more as subordinates to Donald Rumsfeld rather than as independent advisers to the President as has been the traditional role of JCS Chairmen in the past. However, the "yes-man" charge against Pace lost some punch when Pace publicly disagreed with Rumsfeld during a press conference:

On November 29, 2005, Gen. Pace was present at a press conference given by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, where Rumsfeld said that "the United States does not have a responsibility" to prevent torture by Iraqi officials. Pace disagreed with Rumsfeld, saying "It is the absolute responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene, to stop it"

Pace also questioned the Administration line that the Iranian government is supplying Iraq's Sunni insurgents with weaponry:

After White House officials asserted that Iran was supplying insurgents in Iraq with munitions, Gen. Pace questioned the validity of the claim in a February 2007 press conference. Specifically, Gen. Pace questioned the existence of direct evidence linking the Iranian Government to the supply of the weapons, explosively-formed penetrators.

Pace may not have been the most distinguished JCS Chariman in our nation's history, but the grandiose nationbuilding mission in Iraq that he inherited was not his idea. It was the creation of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush and the cabal of neoconservatives who foolishly believed that transplanting American-style democracy in Iraq would be a cakewalk.

Criticism of Pace, and other generals like Petraeus, should be tempered and replaced with criticism of the people who are responsible for getting us into this mess. I honestly don't think the military was ever particularly eager for this war and the subsequent nationbuilding effort. They've been hampered every step of the way by truly incompetent civilian leadership like that of Viceroy Paul Bremmer.

So put a cork in it Reid, and direct your fire where it belongs. The military has enough problems right now trying to deal with the impossible situation that Bush has put them in.


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Comments (6)

Paul Hamilton:

People who were in on that conference call reported that Reid said nothing of the sort.

IOW, Drudge lied. Again.

Looks as though Paul lied again.

REID: Well, I guess the President, he's gotten rid of Pace because he could not get confirmed here in the Senate. Pace is also a yes-man for the President. I told him to his face, I laid it out last time he came in to see me. I told him what an incompetent man I thought he was.

Lee Ward:

The entire quote (including the part DSkinner left out)

REID: Well, I guess the President, he's gotten rid of Pace because he could not get confirmed here in the Senate. Pace is also a yes-man for the President. I told him to his face, I laid it out last time he came in to see me. I told him what an incompetent man I thought he was. But he got rid of his Joint Chiefs of Staff chair, but he still hangs on to this failed Attorney General. And I guess he's gonna [inaudible]. We're gonna keep focusing on it. Every day that goes by, it seems he keeps giving. Now we've learned that the immigration judges are all graduates of Regent University I guess.

and the text that follows the quote on the linked page:

"So The Politico's John Bresnahan, who wrote the original story, was right; Reid did call Pace incompetent. On the other hand, it was in the context of a discussion of Alberto Gonzales and other administration incompetents, not Iraq. The reference to Pace was an aside -- brought up solely to highlight Bush's loyalty to Gonzales. Reid's focus here wasn't on Pace or the commanders."

"Seems to me that the larger context suggests more clearly than the shorter snippet posted earlier by Bob Geiger, another blogger on the call, how pumped up the Politico story and headline were. Nonetheless, the truth is, Bresnahan's story was factually accurate. Though it's still unclear what Reid said about Petraeus, which is the more controversial aspect of the story, since Pace is on his way out and Petraeus is the key guy in Iraq. We were only able to obtain a tape of a limited chunk of the call."

Looks to me like DSkinner lied by omission.

Paul Hamilton:

Okay, that's completely different than what was posted yesterday so I guess I'll defer to the latest information.

DSkinner:

Looks to me like DSkinner lied by omission.

Not following you Lee. Paul said that "Reid said nothing of the sort." I linked to a post that has the transcript showing Reid did say it. The sentence before what you highlighted in the additional paragraphs, "So The Politico's John Bresnahan, who wrote the original story, was right; Reid did call Pace incompetent.", also corrects Paul. What I omitted is not relevant to what Paul commented on. Even Paul admits the new information corrects him.

Lee Ward:

Technically you're correct, DS, Reid said those words, but the context suggests a different meaning imho. The ballyhoo (from what I've read) is that Reid diss'ed Pace over incompetence in Iraq, while the context of the remarks strongly suggests otherwise.

From your link: "In the call, The Politico reported, Reid blasted General Pace as "incompetent," and used "similarly disparaging language" to attack General Petraeus"... but reading the transcript suggests otherwise.

Reading the quote (and assuming it's accurate - which it may not be) and factoring in the context, it hardly appears that Reid was "blasting Pace as incompetent" and did not suggest incompetence over his performance in Iraq, as other bloggers have stated.

AND the fact that the supposed audio recording wasn't released means we have to take the word of one anonymous source who -- for some odd reason -- doesn't want to turn over the actual "recording" - we just need to take his/her word that the transcript is correct? The word of whom exactly? and why can't we listen for ourselves?

AND since there were a number of call participants who deny Reid called Pace incompetent, I'm not ready to buy into one anonymous person's claim that they have a audio recording that they won't share ... but trust them.. it says this -- when you've got other bloggers whose reputations are on the line saying that Reid didn't say this...

I think Paul lept to the conclusion that Drudge lied, then lept to the conclusion that he didn't when called on it.

Way too much leaping going on, and if I appeared to leap for your throat for your selective parsing of an anonymous person's partial transcript to an audio recording they refuse to release for verification - sorry...


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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